Skip to main content

Full text of "Yours to Preserve: On-the-job guidelines for park conservation"

See other formats


yours to preserve 

, , - — 


yours to preserve 

On-the-job guidelines 
for park conservation 

by Albert Manucy 

with Nan Rickey, Franklin G. Smith and others 

including the anonymous authors of the Antiquities Act 


National Park Service 
U.S. Department of the Interior 

Visitor Services Training Series 









Hey, Ranger, look at the arrowhead I found! 

We have this treasure map, see, and this metal detector, and 
we thought .... 

Can I take a tiny piece of the fort for a souvenir? 

I'd just love to have that lovely rock for my patio. 

Now you just look the other way .... 

Oh, look at these dainty pink wildflowers my daughter picked 
for our picnic table .... 

Each one of these happy visitors is a lawbreaker, or soon will 
be. What can you do about it? 

You can do a lot. 

Not that you, in your uniform of forest-green, are Horatio at 
the bridge, stemming an army come to plunder your park. 
(With that attitude, you can spoil a lot of vacations. Includ- 
ing your own.) Instead, rally your resources! Change prospec- 
tive pirates into park guardians and conservation crusaders. 

How? Well, let's talk about Environmental Conservation. 


In 1916 the people of the United States, speaking through 
Congress, gave the National Park Service a tough assignment — 
to preserve a great treasury of national parks and, at the same 
time, to see that people use and enjoy them. 

To preserve, but to use — what a strange combination! 

Preserve means to protect, to keep from change or harm. 
But use means just the opposite — wear and tear, damage, re- 
pair. How, then, can you do both? 

It's not easy. But it can be done. 

The National Park Service philosophy of conservation has 
evolved over 50 years of caring for our Nation's heritage. At its 
heart is a high regard for both man and nature. We believe 
that the beauties and wonders of our land and the endeavors of 
our forebears command respect. We believe that men today 
and in times to come will cherish them increasingly. And be- 
lieving so, we delight in the wonderful paradox 

preservation + use = conservation. 

Such a simple formula! But it won't work unless people 
want it to work. They must understand the formula and, by 
their actions, approve it, if great parks are to survive. And 
their use of the parks must be wise use. The myriad resources 
in them are very fragile and irreplaceable. Yet the warning 
signs of danger are all around — tissue "flowers" abloom along 
the trail; senseless vandalism on a monument; the earth 
trampled cement-hard around tree roots in the campground — to 
tell us that many Americans don't understand the values their 
unthinking "use" is destroying. 

Director George Hartzog said in 1968, "The single and 
abiding purpose of the national parks is to bring man and his 
environment into closer harmony." The time and place to work 
at this goal is when man — meaning our visitor — is under the 
spell of a national park. And you're the guy on the front line. 
The job is yours. 

Don't flinch. True, it's high responsibility, but the payoff 
goes way beyond the park boundary. Each person you reach 
with this message will be a better citizen thereafter. First of 
all, he'll have an increased respect for the park and its re- 
sources. With new awareness, he'll see the contrasts on the 
way home: broad rich farmlands v. auto graveyards; gay flowers 
in the town square v. a city slum beyond; giant thunderheads 
mounting a summer sky v. eye-smarting smoke billowing from 
the factories. Perhaps you can even lead him to think about 
man's use of his environment: about earth and erosion, birds 
and insects and the chemical war upon them, water and wastes, 
and the loss of animal species from the earth. 

If you fail to reach him, what's the alternative? 

Consider the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates. Once called 
the "fertile crescent," they are now the deserts of Iraq. Disaster 
came not from lack of rain, but from man's abuse of the land. 
He cleared the upland forests, let livestock overgraze the grass- 
land — and the soil washed away. His vast irrigation systems 
set the land abloom — until water-concentrated salts poisoned 
the surface soil. No, man did not understand his environment. 

This couldn't happen to us? In our own heartland, winds 
lift clouds of topsoil forever, leaving a barren countryside 
scabbed with junk and deserted buildings. Fish float belly-up 
in streams filthy with refuse and (how ironic!) frothed with 
cleaning detergents. Wells stop flowing, yet a flood swirls into 
homes. Grey shrouds hang over big cities. A great lake dies. 


Environmental conservation is the primary mission, but a 
special theme of these pages is conservation of antiquities. 

The American doctrine of using public land for the public 
good goes back to the days when our country was formed. 
This principle flowered brilliantly into a new concept when 
Yellowstone National Park was established in 1872: Congress 
decreed that every man has a right to enjoy the irreplaceable 
wonders of his land, and that no one has the right to destroy 
them. And our Nation gained a great natural heritage. 

The Antiquities Act of 1906 is another landmark in the 
philosophy of conservation. It says, in effect, that fossils, ruins, 
sherds, projectiles and such — the old things found on public 
lands — also belong to everyone. It says that no one can dig 
them up (without a permit), damage them, or take them 
home. Not even you. Thus, the act extends the basic princi- 
ple of conservation from the land itself to the roots of life and 
human tradition; that is, to any objects or structures of scien- 
tific, prehistoric, or historic interest which exist on public land. 

As you might suspect, Congress passed this law to meet a 
need. The Wild West (slightly tamed by 1900) was a treasury 
of prehistoric relics. Looters were selling baskets, pottery, and 
even stonework from ancient Indian sites. The pot-hunting 
business boomed, and on-site evidence of early man in America 
was fast being destroyed. 

American archeology was young then. But enough work 
had been done to show the field was rich. Various groups 
worked for legislation to protect it. They succeeded better 
than they knew. 

The bill that Congress passed is very simply entitled An Act 
For the preservation of American antiquities. You'll find a re- 
print at the end of this booklet. This remarkable document 
has only 400 words, but it is the foundation for all Federal 
action in the preservation of historic and prehistoric things. 
As is proper for a democracy, it seeks not the benefit of scholars 
alone, but the good of all the people. 






"■'">• n. 


-• ^n*—. 


""" ")r , 

"' '/>.„ 

•"n:^^,;;:;^.«,„ Wi 


"'■ -.,// 


^ '■•<-„ 

Part 1 of the act prohibits vandalism. 

// bans — □ appropriation □ excavation □ injury or □ de- 

of any — □ prehistoric or historic ruin □ monument or □ 
other object of antiquity. 

Note that it protects any significant object or structure on 
Federal land. Note, too, the $500 penalty and 90 days in jail! 
Congress really meant to stop the pilfering. Five hundred was 
a real bundle in those days. As for jails, maybe today's are 
fancier than the 1906 ones, but 90 days still add up to 3 months. 

Part 2 gives the President authority to proclaim national 

Eligible items are — □ prehistoric structures □ historic struc- 
tures □ objects or n landmarks □ objects of scientific interest. 

Again, only things on Federal land can be made national 
monuments. But of course private land can be (and often is) 
returned to public ownership when it is in the public interest. 

Part 3 authorizes study permits. 

Qualified institutions may, with written permission from the 
Secretary of the Interior: □ examine ruins □ excavate arche- 
ological sites □ gather antique objects. 

Part 4 orders publication of regulations for carrying out the act. 

These basic references are in the Code of Federal Regula- 
tions. On preservation of antiquities, see Title 43 CFR, para- 
graphs 3.1 to 3.17. Regulations pertaining to other resources 
are in Title 36 CFR, paragraph 2.20. Your park has copies. 
Read them. 


Resources covered by the Antiquities Act — the evidence of 
life that once was — are only part of what we are bound by law 
to protect. Later legislation, especially the National Park 
Service Act of 1916, charges us to care for all park values. 
Thus has protection been extended to the total environment of 
each park. 

Conservation of biological resources, for example, requires 
constant watchfulness. Man hasn't yet learned to live in full 
harmony with other animate things that share his planet. In 
the natural areas of the National Park System our objective is 
to maintain, sometimes to recreate, the ecologic conditions 
that prevailed before man's disruption of them. Hence you will 
be enforcing regulations against hunting, feeding wildlife, cut- 
ting trees, picking flowers, or oth6rwise disrupting nature. 

Nowadays we are concerned even with rocks. In the long, 
long ago nobody thought to stop a child from taking home a 
pretty pebble, a pailful of sand, or other sample of geology. 
Since then, what with the multiplication of the race and mass 
migration to the parks, the take home is likely to be a 
mountain of pebbles and a whole beach of sand. 

If the mind boggles a bit at the number of pailfuls you tote 
to deplete a beach, let's go to an easier illustration — a cave. 
Even vandals might agree that cave formations should be pro- 
tected. Why? Because production is slow and the supply is 

Well, then. Inexhaustible sands? Imperishable mountains? 

In 1906 the main reason for the Antiquities Act was to curb 
vandalism of archeological sites. This aspect is perhaps more 
important than ever today, for collectors have spawned 
prodigiously. Highly mobile, often equipped with electronic 
gear, they can despoil a site in minutes. Gentlemen (and 
ladies too) who look down on ditch digging as a career, none- 
theless make the dirt fly in pursuit of an elusive arrowhead or 
a minie ball. 

Well, why shouldn't they? After all, just one little artifact, 
like one pailful of sand — who'll miss it? 

But it's not just one little artifact. It's a sociological nugget, 
to be studied in relation to site, soils, the objects around it, and 
even the historical action that put it there. 

You see, digging a site is like reading a book. Except that 
in archeology you tear out each page as you read it. Archeolo- 
gists read and record what was on the page so it isn't lost, 
whereas the pot-hunter seldom bothers to record, even if he can 
read. The page he plucks from the earth is gone. The soil, 
once disturbed, has destroyed the story. The artifact now has 
little value for posterity, even if snatched from the vandal's 

That is not to say that all nonprofessionals are pot-hunters. 
Many amateurs are sincere and qualified. You won't have 

trouble with them, because they know the law and honor it. 
Often they are valuable allies. 

Park resources may also include prehistoric or historic 
structures, such as Indian mounds, military earthworks, and 
architectuie or engineering of various designs, significance, and 
condiiion. Since anything above ground is subject to erosion 
from both natural and human forces, you need to be doubly 

By and large, people pose much more of a problem than 
the workings of natural forces. To an old landmark or a 
nature trail, a season of heavy visitation can be as abrasive as 
a parade of carpenter ants, and calls for eternal vigilance 
guided by park regulations. The regulations state that neither 
collectors of posies, rocks, or other souvenirs, nor scientists, 
nor even park employees, may disturb these resources — unless 
they are armed with a permit. And the permit must be duly 
approved by your park superintendent or (in the case of 
resources specifically mentioned in the Antiquities Act) by the 
Secretary of the Interior. 



Unlike poor Horatio, who faced an army of enemies, you 
deal with a host of friends. Your job is to unveil to them the 
concept that 

preservation + use = conservation 

and enlist these friends as allies. Work with your usual smiling 
tact and intelligence. Beware the clenched-jaw approach which 
often begets spiteful resentment against the very things you 
stand for. 

You can do the job by 

Knowing your park. Know its story and its meaning to 
Americans. Find its beauty, its changing aspects, its special 
things — whether plantlife, wildlife, or antiquities. Knowledge 
brings enthusiasm, and you can communicate both to visitors. 

"Selling" the interpretive program. Tell visitors about exhibits, 
trails, tours, AV programs, good books and the like. These 
things give pleasure and point out the values of the park. 

Talking conservation. Every field officer — that's you — should 
-be ready to explain the ideas and principles that are the founda- 
tion of the National Park Service. To thousands of visitors, 
..hese ideas will be new and exciting (as perhaps they were to 
you). Maybe you are the first live, front-line conservationist 
they have ever seen! In any case, speak. Speak about the public 
lands and their significance to Americans now and in years to 
come. And speak, too, of man's urgent need to come to terms 
with his environment. 

Knowing the law. The Antiquities Act and National Park 
Service regulations are, in effect, your orders of the day, to be 
engraved upon your memory. They guide your decisions and 
sustain your actions as guardian of the park resources. 

Knowing the permit procedures. The ultimate reply to the 
collector who looks you in the eye and says he and the Secre- 
tary are bosom pals is possible only if you are (1) the Secretary 
or (2) intimately acquainted with the process of issuing permits. 


Knowing how to handle violations. Granted, a few among 
the host of visiting friends will turn out to be problem friends 
— people we just haven't reached with The Message. You deal 
with them on a firm but amicable basis. After all, the law's 
on your side. Basic training from your supervisor on handling 
prickly situations will provide some of the answers — before 
you have to have them. 

Being alert. You are the eyes and ears of the superintendent. 
A sharp eye often pays off around a construction job. Project 
designers try to avoid harming park resources, but antiquities 
still turn up in embarrassing places, such as on a bulldozer 
blade. Don't hurl your body under the tracks. Just ask the 
operator to "take five" while you check with a supervisor. If 
salvage is needed, your park superintendent can arrange it. 
You will have done your part in preserving another bit of the 
park fabric for posterity. 

And if, in the course of your meanderings, you spot other 
sites — geological, archeological, historical — make notes so the 
data can be plotted on the park base map. Who knows? Some- 
day they may name a mountain after you. 

Speaking of meandering, keep your eye on the land next 
door. Especially if it's Federal land. Under the Antiquities 
Act, remember, you have responsibilities there too. 


/ «• 

«4 " • *C^V".' .'•••11 


* A • !»• 

i ; 

M v --c v : v 


In historic structures you can't exactly halt the onslaught of 
decay, but you can cope with the obvious: the tree limb that 
threatens the roof when the storm blows; the insidious tube of 
the termite; and look at that mold! It just sits there, etching 
away. After you've seen, sound the alarm. 

Standing with dignity. You, wearing Park Service green, stand 
for a land-use philosophy unique in man's history. The will of 
the people of the United States brought your park into being so 
that it may ever be cherished as a heritage. And you are its 
appointed advocate and guardian. 

Love for all life. Have regard for life — regard for the in- 
credibly complex ecology that gives special vitality to the park 
and for the antiquities that proclaim life as it flourished a long 
time ago. Above all, have regard for the people who come 
now to the park; and have come, go away with a new perception 
of their environment. 

And through new awareness, let your own life grow, too. 
Perception and sensitivity bring understanding. Take joy in 
them and let this joy touch your visitors. Each person can be a 
powerful ally against desecration of this land in which we live. 
Lift the veil for them! Generations yet unborn will bless your 



Public Law 59-209 (June 8, 1906, 34 Stat. 225) 
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representa- 
tives of the United States of America in Congress 
assembled, That any person who shall appropriate, 
excavate, injure, or destroy any historic or prehistoric 
ruin or monument, or any object of antiquity, situated 
on lands owned or controlled by the Government of 
the United States, without the permission of the Secre- 
tary of the Department of the Government having 
jurisdiction over the lands on which said antiquities are 
situated, shall upon conviction, be fined in a sum of not 
more than five hundred dollars or be imprisoned for a 
period of not more than ninety days, or shall suffer both 
fine and imprisonment, in the discretion of the court. 

Sec. 2. That the President of the United States is 
hereby authorized, in his discretion, to declare by public 
proclamation historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric 
structures, and other objects of historic or scientific in- 
terest that are situated upon the lands owned or con- 
trolled by the Government of the United States to be 
national monuments, and may reserve as a part thereof 
parcels of land, the limits of which in all cases shall be 
confined to the smallest area compatible with the proper 
care and management of the objects to be protected: 
Provided, That when such objects are situated upon a 
tract covered by a bona fide unperfected claim or held 
in private ownership, the tract, or so much thereof as 
may be necessary for the proper care and management 
of the object, may be relinquished to the Government, 
and the Secretary of the Interior is hereby authorized 
to accept the relinquishment of such tracts in behalf of 
the Government of the United States. 

Sec. 3. That permits for the examination of ruins, 
the excavation of archeological sites, and the gathering 
of objects of antiquity upon the lands under their re- 
spective jurisdictions may be granted by the Secretaries 
of the Interior, Agriculture, and War to institutions 
which they may deem properly qualified to conduct 
such examination, excavation, or gathering, subject to 
such rules and regulations as they may prescribe: Pro- 
vided, That the examinations, excavations, and gather- 
ings are undertaken for the benefit of reputable 
museums, universities, colleges, or other recognized 
scientific or educational institutions, with a view to in- 
creasing the knowledge of such objects, and that the 
gatherings shall be made for permanent preservation in 
public museums. 

Sec. 4. That the Secretaries of the Departments afore- 
said shall make and publish from time to time uniform 
rules and regulations for the purpose of carrying out 
the provisions of this Act. 


GPO : 1969 — 326-259 

t^iemsuii uiiivcioii 

3 1604 017 869 654 

For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, Q.8. Government Printii; 
Washington, D.C. 20402 - Price 25 cent l